UK unions seek urgent meeting as concerns grow on Tata Steel

UK unions labor unions Tuesday requested an urgent meeting of the national Steel Committee to raise their concerns about Tata Steel UK, after that the chairman of the Tata group said the company “can’t have a situation where India keeps funding the losses just to keep it going.”

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata Sons group, which owns Tata Steel, said in an interview with the Sunday Times that the company’s steel plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, needed to be “self-sustaining.” The plant can produce 3.5 million mt a year of crude steel.

“It is extremely disappointing Tata has sought to influence discussions by making threats in the media,” the unions — GMB, Unite and Community — said in a joint press release.

The unions said there were challenges at Tata Steel UK, but that this was mainly caused “by years of underinvestment in the assets.”

“…we have made it clear to Tata Steel, at the highest levels, that the way forward for Tata Steel UK must include new commitments on job security and commitments on strategic capex to safeguard the future of UK steelmaking.

In November, Tata in a bid to staunch losses and improve the financial performance and transform its European arm announced it would have to cut 1,600 jobs in the Netherlands, 1,000 in the UK and 350 elsewhere in the world. Through its proposed transformation program, Tata Steel was initially targeting a positive cash flow by the end of its financial year ending March 2021. Tata Steel’s UK losses deepened to GBP371 million ($486 million) last year from GBP222 million, the Sunday Times reported.

A spokesperson for Tata Steel’s European operations said that what the chairman said in the interview had already been communicated to colleagues through the company’s transformation program.

— Annalisa Villa